Crowd demands answers on pipeline

Crowd gathering in protest of proposed liquified gasline near Shady Cove
Crowd gathering in protest of proposed liquified gasline near Shady Cove

After a protest on Highway 62 in Shady Cove, at least 80 irate citizens commandeered a presentation by Pacific Connector and Williams Pipeline Company to change the format of the meeting. They wanted answers to their questions about the proposed 237-mile liquefied natural gas pipeline that will travel through the Upper Rogue on its way to California.


The locals had reinforcement at the April 23 meeting from well known
pipeline activist Jody McCaffree of North Bend. With McCaffree were
other activists including Diane Phillips of Azalea who is president of
"Oregon Citizens Against the Pipeline."
   
As well as
affected property owners and others, Shady Cove City Councilor Gary
Hughes and Developer Mike Malepsy both attended the meeting. Hughes is
concerned because of the proximity of the pipeline to Shady Cove and
Malepsy opposes the pipeline because he feels property values will
plummet. At the meeting, Hughes learned Oregon would get less than ten
percent of the gas and he is now leaning towards opposing the pipeline,
he said.
   
The Grange was wall-to-wall people when local
activist Marci Laudani stood on a stepping stool to be seen and heard
and demanded answers from pipeline employees. Laudani said she and her
husband had built a "Green Solar" home and now the pipe line will go
through her property. "Yes," she emphasized, "I have a lot of
questions." After she concluded, her place on the stool was taken by
indignant citizen-after-citizen wanting information.
   
Questions
were hurled at the pipeline employees who looked uncomfortable as they
attempted to answer. Many times, they did not have the information,
however, and a loud buzz of voices filled the room. Quiet was called
for more than once. At one point Trail resident Fred Fleetwood yelled,
"We don’t need it; we don’t need it." He was echoed by others.
   
After
about 45-minutes of standing, chairs were put out for the people while
the dozen or so pipeline employees stood in a line, as a panel, facing
the incensed crowd.
   
Concerns about safety were at the top of
the list. Trail resident Betty Goodboe asked how much funding would be
provided for emergency responses to fire. Land Project Manager Rodney
Gregory said that was yet to be determined, garnering much derisive
laughter.
   
Revealed was the fact that gas would not be
odorized because petroleum has a natural odor. A woman pointed out that
brochures say the gas is odorless and colorless. After being told that
residents would hear a leak, someone yelled "You’ll hear it for a
second before you incinerate."
   
Residents were assured the
gas would dissipate into the air and would not burn except under
extreme conditions. Project Manager Dan Lattin said there might be
other signs of leakage such as dried vegetation. Citizens mentioned
half a dozen horses found dead in Idaho alongside a Williams’ gas
pipeline that had a hole the size of a nickel. Litigation prevented the
panel from giving an answer to the question of what killed the horses.
   
Because
the Rogue River is the basis for the local economy, many questions
centered on the safety of the horizontal directional drill and possible
"fraq-outs" when drilling under the river. Lattin explained if a
fraq-out does occur, drilling would immediately stop. For added safety
of fish, construction will be during "fish windows" to minimize the
impact.
   
When the Environmental Impact Study Draft is
issued, there will be 90 days of public comment with notification by
mail and public notice. The draft has not yet been done and officials
do not have a set date, said officials.
   
One billion cubic
feet of gas will travel daily through the proposed pipeline. The
maximum pressure will be 1,440 pounds per square inch. Residents
expressed concern about the close proximity to gas pumps at a market.
They were assured of the many steps taken to provide safety including
pigs in the line checking for dents, corrosion and cracks. The panel
cited other precautions such as a Cathodic Protection System and a
special coating on the pipe to prevent corrosion. Welds will be
inspected 100 percent, according to the officials.
   
Noise
during drilling and at the Butte Falls’ compressor station and disposal
of huge amounts of water used in hydro-testing the pipe were also
addressed.
   
The question of why public easements will not be
used for the pipeline, especially on I-5, garnered much discussion. A
Williams’ 10-inch pipeline already runs north-south but the panel said
there is not enough room left in that existing right-of-way. "You guys
are just bullsh—–g us," was one response. Someone from the panel
apologized and said they were doing the best they could to answer the
questions.
   
Landowners have input on the route of the
pipeline. FERC will consider those comments and require the pipeline
company to respond. A rancher from the C2 Cattle Ranch that has 10,000
acres with a projected seven miles of pipeline, said he is opposed to
the project but worked with Williams. The pipeline route was changed
and he vouched for the company. Gregory reminded property owners they
would receive fair compensation.
   
Besides the benefit of
getting gas, Williams would also employ about 1,800 qualified people at
peak construction of the pipeline, with half of the jobs going to
Oregonians. The construction of the Coos Bay terminal would provide
additional jobs. The pipeline would also give about $8 million to the
local tax base although this would be split between four counties,
according to the panel.
   
Afterwards, affected property owner
Toni Woolsey said maybe Pacific Connector and Williams learned they
should treat property owners with the same respect they give the
Jackson County Board of Commissioners by giving people the kind
of meeting they deserve. She said there were some answers but not a lot.
    More information is available at www.pacificconnectorgp@williams.com
By Margaret Bradburn
Of the Independent

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